Historiann.com commenter and special correspondent ej was at the Obama rally at Baa Ram U. this afternoon, and sent in this exclusive report:
I’ve been flattered by all the attention the presidential candidates were paying to Colorado, especially the Democrats, who haven’t had much cause to come here of late. The turnout at the rally for Joe Biden at Moo Moo U. in Potterville stunned me! But that was nothing compared to the events today. Early estimates had the Barack Obama crowd at Denver hitting about 35,000. Actual tallies-over 100,000. I thought I would be safe showing up at the CSU rally close to 3-I wasn’t die hard enough to camp out, so a good seat wasn’t going to happen regardless. And after all, it was Fort Collins–how many people could there be? But when I finally got there, I was stunned by the turnout. Lines had started forming as early as 10 for a 3:30 speech, and they were forced to “close the gates” at 3. (I’m not really sure what that phrase means at an outdoor rally). So I stood along the train tracks facing the oval with hundreds of other folks who couldn’t get in. I was surprised by how fervent the crowd was-even those of us who didn’t have a seat. Ed. note: the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that there were 50,000 people at the Oval this afternoon.
We couldn’t see much through the trees, but we could hear just fine. Obama actually started speaking before 3:30 (another surprise for me. I was sure he would be late and there would be several irritating introductions). The first few minutes were about early voting, along with some nice personal touches for the CSU crowd. About 10 minutes in, he segued to his stump speech. I have to say, as someone who has been obsessively watching CNN of late, I thought most of this would be familiar to me, but I realize now that they all play the same sound bites over and over, and they tend to be the policy ones. There were parts of his speech that I’m sure weren’t new to him, but I had never heard before, and I found them really effective. He talked about opportunity, but made it really personal, and really pitched to a crowd of first-time voters. Who here doesn’t have a parent or grandparent who didn’t go to college, but was determined that their child would? Who here doesn’t have a parent or grandparent who didn’t have the right to vote, but marched so that their children could? (Granted, that last one probably doesn’t hit home quite as well in Colorado as it does in more diverse states, but the crowd loved it).
Historiann already mentioned the “raise your hand if you make less than 250k line. In person, it played much better. The crowd was silent because everyone was raising their hand! He really does have an uncanny ability to connect on a personal level with an enormous crowd. Interestingly, the lines that got the crowd the most frenzied were those about “one America” and condemnations of divisive politics. I guess in light of that, its easy to see why the Republican campaign is floundering right now.
He spoke for 30 minutes. I left immediately. In part because there was no chance to see him up close, but more because I was illegally parked and worried that someone would tow my car. All in all, I was overwhelmed by how enthusiastic people were-even those of us peering across the oval from the train tracks. The cynical side of me has to ask where all of these folks have been. I’ve been in Colorado for 8 years now, and I never in my wildest dreams imagined there were so many Democrats living alongside of me. Perhaps they’ve only now been emboldened enough to come out publicly, or maybe they are recent converts. In any case, I wish they would have been this excited 4 years ago, but am nonetheless thankful for their votes now.